David Vosburgh, Founder of Opera Western Reserve, Dies

YOUNGSTOWN – David Vosburgh, who founded Opera Western Reserve and was a leader of the Mahoning Valley arts community, has died, according to a press release from Stambaugh Auditorium. He was 85.

Vosburgh founded OWR in 2004 and served as its artistic director until retiring in 2019 and moving to Massachusetts.

The opera company produced at least one performance per year since its inception, all at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Vosburgh was a Broadway actor and opera singer in his younger years who worked on New York stages for decades.

He later moved to Youngstown, where he was an opera and theater instructor at Youngstown State University and a pillar of the Valley’s arts community for two decades.

Vosburgh directed or designed more than 100 productions for opera companies, various theater groups and national touring companies.

He has performed in more than 30 operatic roles. In addition to “Evita,” he was also in the original Broadway productions of “Maggie Flynn,” “A Little Night Music” and “A Doll’s Life,” and revivals of tours of “Sweeney Todd,” “Cabaret,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Parade.”

Vosburgh also served as artistic director for the Youngstown Playhouse for five years and, before that, the New York Lyric Opera.

A vocal coach and teacher, Vosburgh was publicly thanked by Broadway star Patti LuPone for his work with her during her stint with “Evita” in 1980. LuPone mentioned Vosburgh in her acceptance speech after winning a Tony Award in 2008.

In his career, Vosburgh also taught at New York University, The New York Academy of Theatrical Arts, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy,  and Austin Peay University.

 His passion for teaching never relented. Most recently, he taught acting classes at a local senior center in Worcester, Mass., according to the press release from Stambaugh Auditorium. 

Vosburgh’s death comes just days before the premiere of a documentary film about him. 

“David Vosburgh: Extraordinary, Important, and Deserving” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Stambaugh Auditorium. The 1:45 film was made by Youngstown-based filmmaker Adam Michael, and includes multiple interviews with Vosburgh and those who knew him.

For tickets, click HERE.

Pictured at top: The late David Vosburgh sits for an interview for the film by Adam Michael.

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